Outside of Nashville
In an age when country music is dominated by contest winners, fresh-scrubbed adolescents, and pre-packaged pop (read 'new') country pretenders, Rick Alan Carpenter is the genuine article. 'I've been dead drunk, dead broke, divorced and damn near dead more than a few times' he intones. 'I've successfully avoided success for 20 years.' Carpenter has played as a sideman in numerous country and rock bands in Los Angeles as well as Nashville, where he currently resides. He has opened for everyone 'from Boy Howdy to Van Halen, playing huge auditoriums, closet-sized bars, and every type of roadhouse and honkytonk in between.' Born 'in the east' and raised 'out west,' Carpenter started playing the guitar at thirteen. 'My mother played the piano and always entertained when people came over, so I caught the bug early on.' He started playing bass as well and found out he could get more work as a bass player, because 'everyone wanted to play guitar.' After a few years playing bass in several rock bands, Rick Alan rediscovered the country music he heard as a kid. 'I had a friend who had thousands of records, Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, Wynn Stewart, Tommy Collins, all the great Bakersfield stuff, I felt reborn.' The 'cowpunk' scene in LA had spawned Dwight Yoakam, The Blasters and Lone Justice, and the neo-traditional country sound appealed to Carpenter. 'I played the Palomino, but was getting tired of California, and headed for Nashville with my guitars and a suitcase full of sad songs in '93.' Carpenter soon found out, however, that Nashville wasn't interested in real, traditional country music. 'Perry Howard (Harlan's son) said I was old school, which I took as a compliment, though I don't think he intended it that way.' Undaunted, Rick Alan kept writing and performing in bands and on writer's nights all over town. 'I met Scott McEwen, a great stand up bass player who has played with Hank III, and Rosie Flores, and he encouraged me to record some songs at his studio.' The resulting sessions became the new CD 'Outside of Nashville' a 6 song EP that showcases Carpenter's love of real country music. 'The production is raw, the songs cut through, nothing like the slick sound Nashville currently favors,' he says, 'I'm very pleased!' Carpenter wrote all the songs and plays all the guitars, with help from Mark Horn (Derailers ) on drums, Carco Clave (Asleep at the Wheel) on steel/dobro, Jeremy Garrett on fiddle, McEwen on bass, Bob Grant on mandolin, and Randy Finchum singing back up vocals. Stand - out songs include 'Same Old Heartache' and 'Nothing Left to Lose (But the Blues).' The struggle for recognition goes on, but recent shows at the Bluebird Café and the Hall of Fame Lounge in Nashville are certainly encouraging. 'I get the feeling that real country is coming back strong' Carpenter states, 'audiences are very responsive and, to me, that's all that matters.' © 2005 Rick Alan Carpenter.